Kevin Love wasted no time. He’s officially a member of the Miami Heat.
The five-time All-Star and 15-year NBA veteran cleared waivers on Monday afternoon, then signed a contract to join the Heat for the remainder of the season not long afterward. The now-former Cleveland Cavaliers forward was in Miami for the signing, with plans to start working out at his new team facility right away.
LOVE to see it ✍️
OFFICIAL: The Miami HEAT have signed 5x #NBAAllStar Kevin Love. pic.twitter.com/27zpl848r3
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 20, 2023
Love’s first official practice with Miami is scheduled for Thursday when the team returns from its All-Star break, and he could make his Heat debut as early as Friday at Milwaukee.
Love is an NBA champion, an Olympic champion and a FIBA World Cup champion. He’s 42nd on the NBA’s 3-pointers made list with 1,536, which ranks 19th among players currently in the league.
Heat center Bam Adebayo — who was hoping Love would come to Miami if the Cavaliers bought him out — said he planned to call coach Erik Spoelstra on Monday to start a conversation about how he and Love might be able to play alongside one another.
“Spo’s smart. He’ll figure it out, how we’re going to handle things,” Adebayo told The Associated Press. “It’s exciting. We’ve got fresh legs on the team. We’ve got a guy like Kevin Love, who has been through those wars, came back from 3-1 (with Cleveland against Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals). You’ve got a battle-tested guy like that who has won. It’s big for us.”
Over parts of 15 NBA seasons with Cleveland and Minnesota, Love has averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. He averaged career lows of 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 20 minutes per game in 41 games, almost all as a reserve, this season for Cleveland and didn’t play in the team’s final 12 games before the All-Star break.
That’s what led to the buyout talks, and ultimately, Love coming to the Heat. He also talked with the Philadelphia 76ers.
When he thinks about what adding Love means to the Heat, Adebayo draws parallels between him and two other players — current Heat forward Udonis Haslem when it comes to leadership, and former Heat center Meyers Leonard when it comes to things like an ability to space the floor, talk on defense and bring help defending the rim.
“He’s smart, he stretches the floor, and you can learn from guy like that, having a guy like that in your corner,” Adebayo said. “Him and UD, two different walks of life, but now they’re kind of going down the same road. Having guys like that, it’ll help me tremendously. He’s an all-around great person.”
Love will wear No. 42, which he donned during his college days at UCLA and while playing for Minnesota.
The Heat on Monday also announced the signing of another big man — free agent center Cody Zeller. He has averaged 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in 494 games with Charlotte and Portland.
The 6-foot-11 center was the fourth pick in the 2013 draft.
“He’s really underrated as a team player,” Adebayo said. “He’s underrated for what he does. I know what he’ll bring to our team will make us more successful.”
Miami will come out of the All-Star break seventh in the Eastern Conference at 32-27, five games back of Cleveland for the No. 4 spot. The top four teams in each conference will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and the top six in each conference will avoid the play-in tournament to determine the seventh and eighth seeds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.